My name is Jennie Epp. My husband, Brian, was diagnosed with ALS in June of 2010. Before his diagnosis at the age of 40, Brian enjoyed racing motorcycles, scuba-diving, snowboarding, and rough housing with our three boys; Christopher 12, Brenden 11 and Connor 7. He was a hard worker who was precise and particular on how a job was done, he never liked to cut corners on a job. He was a Jack of all trades which lead to many friends and family asking for his help or expertise, which he was always happy to do.
Brian had worked in landscaping for over 25 years, part of that with his own company. During the economic change and landscaping became a luxury for most people, work decreased, forcing Brian to look for new employment to provide for our family. Less than one year prior to his diagnosis, Brian had completed the Police Academy and was employed by Longview Police Department. Even though Brian was physically fit from his landscaping work, the physical requirements for the Academy were quite demanding and challenging. Yet, despite this, we marveled at how God gave Brian the extra stamina and endurance to pass each test. Brian said without a doubt this strength came from the Lord and was not in Him alone.
Before Brian's diagnosis, our family was coping with another health issue- the cancer diagnosis I had received just a couple of years prior. In 2007, I found out that I had smoldering Multiple Myeloma, a cancer in the bone marrow. I felt like a ticking time bomb, wondering when and if the bomb of cancer would become active. Just two years later, it increased to a stage one cancer and my oncologist recommended I go through chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. I was all ready to go forward with the treatment, yet backed out a week before I was to start. Since there is no safe cure, only horrific treatments that last only so long until the cancer increases again resulting in another round of treatment, I opted to seek an alternative.
My choice of treatment was eating a very strict diet along with drinking a freshly made vegetable juice every hour, nine times a day for three months. It was intense! I couldn't go anywhere for very long because I needed to have a fresh juice. My world became anything but normal and I had to battle negative and fearful thoughts that I might not be able to make it through! It was during that difficult time that Brian began to show symptoms of ALS!
I often ponder on God's timing of us both dealing with serious health issues at the same time! How much can a young family handle? Will we have enough strength to make it through this intense storm? Yet, I am reminded of God giving Brian such stamina and strength for the Academy. He is still the same God today as He was then. For some reason, He has chosen to allow Brian's strength to decrease and weaken at a time He has planned as perfect. While I would chose something different, I am not the one who knows all things. So, I will continue to trust in the midst of the questions and praise His name, in the midst of our sorrows.
Presently, Brian uses his power chair to get around. Because walking is very difficult for him, we are in a huge need for a maser bed and bath on the lower level of our home. I would love to see Brian keep his independence as long as possible and also be safe at the same time! We had tried to see if we could move into another house, since it would be easier. But, found that the current economic state we are in put us too upside down in our house to be able to sell and buy again.
We are excited and so encouraged at the individuals and businesses who God is providing as he meets our needs.